Kentucky domain seizure (update)

It's back to the trial court for domain seizure case.

The vexed question of whether the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) or the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) have legal standing in a long-running fight to stop the state governor of Kentucky seizing international internet domain names (see previous InfoPowa reports) is again in the headlines after a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling late last week.

The court has for a second time ruled that the owners of Internet gambling operations need to show up in court to establish legal standing if they don't want the state to seize the domain names of their Web sites, reports the Associated Press news agency.

Justices of the court ruled that trade associations like iMEGA and the IGC don't have standing to represent the owners of gambling Web sites. The justices also found questions about whether the few businesses named as owners of some of the sites really own the domain names.

The generally jurisdictional dispute has been ongoing through several courts since 2008, when the Kentucky state government tried to seize 141 online gambling domains which it claimed were operating illegally in the state, However, the action has more recently revolved around technicalities such as whether iMEGA and IGC have legal standing to pursue the issue.

The case has now been referred back to the circuit trial court without any decision on the core domain seizure issues of the dispute so that the legal standing debate can be finalised.

Legal Counsel for iMEGA explained: “The sum and substance of the whole issue is that the [Kentucky Supreme] Court said there are issues of standing that need to be decided by the trial court first. In short, the Court is sending us back to the trial court.”

In March this year the Kentucky Court of Appeals approved a request by iMEGA to send iMEGA, et al v. Commonwealth of Kentucky back to the state’s Supreme Court. The order allowed the Supreme Court to make a final decision on the merits regarding the fate of the 141 domain names the Commonwealth had tried to seize from their international owners.

Earlier, the state Supreme Court had issued an intermediate decision, saying that none of iMEGA’s “numerous [and] compelling” arguments in defence of the domain owners could be considered until the association had satisfied the Court’s requirements regarding legal standing.

There has been no recent news on the state's further litigation aimed at extracting monetary compensation from a number of e-gaming firms that allegedly operated within Kentucky.

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